At the time of
European discovery, the territory of modern-day Brazil had as many as 2,000 nations and tribes. The estimated population of Brazil at the
time of the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500 was roughly 3,000,000
Amerindians. These native tribes are thought to have come during the
first wave of migrants from North Asia, crossing the Bering Land
Bridge at the end of the last Ice Age.
the Portuguese Crown devised the Hereditary Captaincies system to
occupy Brazil. With permanent settlement came the establishment of the
sugar cane industry and its intensive labor. Early settlements were
founded primarily on the coast, adopting an economy based on the
production of agricultural goods to be exported to Europe. By the 18th
century, gold and diamond deposits were found in the state of Minas
In 1808, the
Portuguese Court, fleeing from Napoleon's troops, established
themselves in Rio de Janeiro, becoming the seat of government outside
Portugal until 1821. Following a series of political upheavals, Brazil
achieved its independence from Portugal in 1822. On October 12, 1822,
Dom Pedro became the first Emperor of Brazil.
pressures forced the Emperor to step down on April 7, 1831. He
returned to Portugal and left behind his son, Pedro II. From
1830-1840, before Pedro II reached maturity, Brazil was governed by
regents. The regency period is characterized by numerous revolts,
including the Male Revolt in Bahia in 1835.
1940, Pedro II was crowned Emperor. During Pedro's rule, Brazil saw
increased coffee exports, the War of Triple Alliance, and the end of
the slave trade from Africa. Slavery, itself, was not abolished until
Pedro II was
deposed on November 15, 1889 by a Republican military coup. From 1889
to 1930, the dominant states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais alternated
control of the presidency. A military junta took control in 1930.
Getulio Vargas took office soon after, and would remain as
intermittent dictatorial ruler until 1945. Military forces again took
power in a coup d'etat in 1964, and remained in power until 1985.
Tancredo Neves was elected president in an indirect election in 1985.
He died before taking office, and the vice-president, Jose Sarney, was
sworn in as president.
In 1988 the
current Federal Constitution was enacted and democracy was
re-established. Fernando Collor de Mello was the first president truly
elected by popular vote after the military regime. In September 1992,
the National Congress voted for Collor's impeachment after scandals
were uncovered. From here, Itamar Franco assumed the presidency. In
1994, Fernando Henrique Cardoso ran for president and won, being
reelected in 1998. Brazil's current president, Luiz Inacio Lula da
Silva, was elected in 2002 and reelected in 2006.